NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Best Bets
A frustrating Sweet 16 to say the least. Houston continued to power us, but alas the Iowa State train finally faltered. Kansas was covering for the majority of their game against Providence before falling apart. That being said, we still did very well in the “other” bets section, so I have faith we will rally before things are all said and done. Plus, we have a “Houston will win more games than Texas Tech” +165 future bet waiting to be cashed, so we have certainly not done too poorly in this tournament. Let’s get to this weekend’s bets.
Sweet 16 Best Bets: 1-3 (-0.96 units)
All Sweet 16 Bets: 6-6 (-0.5 units)
Total Best Bets: 10-13 (-1.16 units)
Total Bets: 21-23-3 (-0.42 units)
Saturday (all times EDT)
#5 Houston -2.5 (-115) vs. #2 Villanova: Houston has been very profitable for me in this tournament. The Cougars are finally playing the way advanced computer metrics saw them all season. And this is a team that is playing extremely well in the tournament, bolstering their top 5 KenPom ranking. They were my pick to make the Final Four from the jump and I see no reason to go away from them in this game.
#4 Arkansas +4 (-110) vs. #2 Duke: The second-most surprising win of the Sweet 16 (behind St. Peter’s obviously) belonged to Arkansas who stunned #1 overall seed Gonzaga. Many people think this is the perfect setup for a Coach K storybook ending in the Final Four, but I wouldn’t be so sure. We talk a lot about guard play in March, and the Razorbacks have some of the best, most experienced guards left in the field. JD Notae has carried Arkansas to the tune of at least 17 points in every tournament game. Surrounding him are very capable players like Stanley Umude, Au’diese Toney and Jaylin Williams (who plays much larger than his 6’10” size). On top of everything else, 538’s model actually favors Arkansas just slightly (51%-49%). I’m tempted to add Arkansas +155 ML as well, but I’ll be happy knowing +4 hits if the Razorbacks win outright
#1 Kansas -6 (-110) vs. #10 Miami: Taking Kansas as a favorite did us no favors in the last round, but I’m sticking with the theory that the Jayhawks have been far and away the best team in this region. A win sends them to New Orleans for the Final Four, a place Kansas has reached the last three times the Big Easy hosted the championship. Miami has had a surprising run to the Elite 8, but this is the program’s first appearance in this round. Rolling with the favorite exposes us to potential for some March Madness or the back door hanging open in the final couple minutes as happened against Providence, but Kansas’ experience carries them through.
#15 St. Peter’s +8 (-110) vs. #8 North Carolina: Now we are truly in uncharted territory. The Peacocks are the first #15 seed to ever make it to the Elite 8 and frankly this team could be in the Final Four next weekend. Regardless, we are guaranteed another #5 seed or lower in the Final Four (something to remember for your brackets next year). Both teams are playing with house money at this point, but the way the Peacocks have beaten Oscar Tshiebwe’s Kentucky and Zach Edey’s Purdue has really impressed me. I wonder if UNC’s short rotation finally catches up to them; their five starters play a ton of minutes and have played some grueling, emotional games against Baylor and UCLA. The Tar Heels are still my pick to win, but I think the Peacocks keep this one close with their tough, scrappy defense. St. Peter’s ML is +290 for those brave enough to ride them one more time and potentially be a part of history.
Houston-Villanova o127 (-110): Yes, Houston’s defense has been elite all season and they’ve cashed the under in the last two rounds against higher-seeded opponents. However, I think the market is overcorrecting too much by placing this total in the 120s. Villanova has a similar offensive rating to Arizona, and both are much better than either UAB or Illinois. The Houston game against Arizona would have cashed an over if the total was as low as this one. Don’t forget, Houston has a strong offense in addition to their calling card defense. The Cougars scored 82 points against UAB and 72 against Arizona; even the 68 they scored against Illinois puts them more than halfway to this total. The way Houston crashes the offensive glass and gives themselves second (or third or fourth) chances to score means they will put up their fair share of points. I think Villanova does their part as well and this is more suited to be a game in the 130s than 120s for points.
Be on the lookout for Duke-Arkansas o147 or lower if you can find it. Anything above that is too much of a risk for me. But those two teams love to score and the Razorbacks want to push tempo, which is ok with Duke. The Blue Devils scored 78 on Texas Tech of all teams, so 80 against Arkansas is a real possibility and Arkansas will likely do the same
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